Beautiful Views

17 June 2011
Uig, Isle of Skye, Scotland
In a hostel with a particularly asinine internet access system. Photos to come at a later date.

The previous few months I’ve been “living” – mentally, at least, wherever I am. Ireland, Scotland, and France I’ve been more in “vacation” mode.” Which is a different mentality with different motivations for writing. In India, I was much more likely to reflect on the adventures of the day to day. Europe is a lot closer to “Today we did X. It was pretty. Mom and I haven’t killed each other yet.”
Not quite the same thought process.

I owe y’all a true entry on Ireland – two entries for Ireland 2011 isn’t really acceptable. I’m not sure if this is it. The short and dirty is that C and I had a lovely time, if not the time that was planned. Our days involved regular irish coffee and/or Guinness, ice cream (if you didn’t get that memo) and incredible scenery. C and I remain the type of friend where if one of us is thinking too loudly, the other one asks, “What did you say?”

My day in Dublin to myself was a boring one, though productive. I did normal stuff that really only seems boring when it’s actually routine. Something that never fails to entertain me is how frequently normal stuff becomes an adventure when you’re abroad. Or, if not an adventure, at least more interesting. For example, I got my hair cut by a gay man with an Irish accent so thick I honestly couldn’t tell you what he said or what he was planning to do to my hair, but my split ends are mostly gone, my layers are back, and I somehow ended up with a similar haircut to before.
I spent some time poking around the shops on Grafton street, intending to bolster my travel wardrobe with something other than the same two pairs of pants and four shirts. Instead I left my shopping expedition with pretty lacey black things that do me absolutely no good in my next two weeks of travel sharing a hostel room with my mother.

My Mom and I are renting a car here in Scotland. I arrived prepared to drive that first day. My Mom was getting off a transatlantic flight and I had about five months of living with cars driving on the left and through those hellish things called round abouts.1
It was a reasonable assumption, one that did not factor in my *cough*superior*cough* navigational skills. Needless to say, she’s been doing most of the driving and I’ve been doing most of the navigating and hand holding through round abouts. She’s done an excellent job with single track roads, another hellish concept not designed for drivers of rental Mercedes.
That’s right, Mercedes. We requested a Focus or something along those lines. They were out and we refused to drive a stick2 so they gave us a Benz, which makes single tracking even more nerve wrecking. It has a fancy parking senor that sounds an alarm each time the car gets too close to something (even if that something is grass).
It’s been going off a lot, what with all the ditches we’ve gone into for passing purposes, the cars that squeezed by, and the sheep running about.
(Mom suggested that we shoot the buzzer thing as there does not appear to be a way to turn it off. I’m not sure that Hertz would appreciate our ingenious adaptation to the Scottish roads.)

We spent our first three nights in a hostel3 in Tobermory, Isle of Mull. Which is possibly the most adorable town I’ve ever seen, though with its population of 1,200 or so people I am not really tempted to move there.
Mull is beautiful, with moments of breathtaking scenery – after the Himalayas, I was not sure I would ever experience that again. But I haven’t gotten jaded to nature’s various forms of beauty: I can still be awed.
I want very badly to return to Scotland with my camping gear and a muck about in these woods and mountains for a few weeks. It’s odd to think that this fall I won’t even have to go th rough immigration to do so.

Our first day it rained and we spent most of it exploring a castle and driving around the island. Our intention was to see Calgary Bay, but we misjudged just how long it would take to drive along the windy, single track road that loops the Northern half of the island. It was beautiful though. If anyone asked us what we did that day we could probably sum it up with “We drove around and said ‘Wow’ a lot.”

Our second day it did not rain. It was gorgeous and sunny and we spent the afternoon sunbathing on an uninhabited island surrounded by puffins.
Puffins are so much more tiny than I expected them to be. It’s hard not to smile at their goofy, awkward beauty. You half expect their beak to weigh them down in flight, it seems like the heaviest bit of their little body.
I got to be a part of the day’s entertainment for the sixty some other passengers. I went to use the on board toilet, which is positioned at the front of the main cabin where most of the people were seated. As I was pulling my underwear (knickers) and pants (trousers) back up, a huge swell knocked me over. I slammed into the door, jarring the latch, and fell out into the main cabin, with those sixty some retirees, birth watchers, and families getting a nice view of my pale ass.
There are times when I really appreciate having a sense of humor.
Because if I didn’t, I think I would spend most of my life mortified.


1 I am actually so used to the left now that I worry for my safety driving on the right back home.

2 The two people who have attempted to teach me manual can understand why. Though, honestly, we probably could have handled it. Really.

3 I was vaguely concerned that Mom would feel out of place in hostels as one of the few people out of their twenties. I shouldn’t have been concerned – we are both on the younger end of the crowd! For whatever reason, the hostels are filled with retirees. It’s a little odd to share a dorm room with sixty year old (plus) women, though that’s much better than sharing a kitchen with most of them. 0_o

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